A Letter From Chris Soukup on the Coronavirus
A Letter From Chris Soukup on the Coronavirus
Dear Community Members,
On behalf of all of us at Communication Service for the Deaf, I want to extend my deepest concern and compassion to all those affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus, most especially for those within our own community. It is understandable that so many of us are struggling with the flood of fear and anxiety that have come rushing into all of our lives.
A little more than a week ago, I never would have imagined the level of disruption we have seen in our society due to COVID-19. We had just made the decision to withdraw two speakers repping CSD when Austin announced the decision to cancel SXSW. While this sent shock waves through the Austin community, we all knew it was the right thing to do. By that time, thousands of people worldwide already had died, with infection cases exponentially rising, and COVID-19 was taking firm root in the United States. Our civic responsibility to protect the welfare of our local community and the greater public was paramount.
We are entering a period where global health crises like this demand that we come together in a strong response. We all face a tough road ahead with the COVID-19 coronavirus, yet I do remain hopeful. Our community has come together before during times of unprecedented challenges, and this is the latest one. While we must first and foremost ensure our own safety and well-being and that of our employees and families we must not forget that our actions will impact those in greater need. This means taking action to protect not just ourselves and our loved ones, but also our neighbors and local communities. This means changing our behaviors and stepping up where it counts.
If you do not personally feel like COVID-19 will impact you, you may not feel the need to isolate or keep to your homes. But you do need to change your daily habits and approach to things, starting today.
- If you are symptom-free and not part of an at-risk group: You still need to practice the full range of preventative measures to slow or stop the spread and transmission of this virus. It can very easily be passed on indirectly to more vulnerable at-risk populations, including the elderly, those with suppressed immune systems, with lung conditions, heart disease, or diabetes.
- If you are feeling sick or believe you have been exposed: Please self-isolate or quarantine yourselves, and attempt to seek out medical attention, like testing, or get information about what to do in case you start feeling any sorts of symptoms. Work out a plan of action and be sure that you are prepared to execute whatever is needed to help preserve the public health.
For more information about Coronavirus/COVID-19, check out the resources page that we have developed below.
CSD currently is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation through information released by public health officials and organizations, and taking steps to protect and reduce any risks to our employees and the communities we serve. We are following the advice and recommendations that have already been shared, and will be responsive to any new information that will come out in the next few weeks as this situation continues to evolve. I encourage all of us not to lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together, and act with compassion and with the thought that what we do today affects everyone in the world.
Protecting Our Employees
At CSD we are actively monitoring the COVID-19 situation and continue to take several proactive measures to help minimize health risks to our employees, their families, the communities we serve, and the greater public. While CSD’s national team has been a virtual workplace for several years and we offer numerous online services, these proactive measures remain critically important, especially as we have a large number of employees working at our call centers nationwide. These call centers and our employees who work there serve a vital role each and every day helping thousands within our community. Here are the precautionary steps we have taken to date all through our organization:
- Enhanced hygiene stations and cleaning routines throughout our call centers nationwide.
- Strong encouragement of increased social distancing, use of hand sanitizers, and frequent hand washing
- Cancellation of all physical CSD events for the next 4 weeks, with future events under review
- Restricted non-essential travel, allowing it only for critical reasons
Currently, there are no known or identified cases of COVID-19 infection within our employee base, and we will continue to monitor and be prepared to respond appropriately should there be any change in the status, health, or well-being of any of our employees.
Continuing Our Services to the Deaf Community
The entire team at CSD and those leading our programs will continue to ensure that our communities are provided with the services they need, while protecting and reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19. We run many of our programs in online or virtual spaces, and are taking precautions by moving or reducing many of the services provided at our physical locations to online spaces. We also have taken additional steps by cancelling any physical events that are happening over the next few weeks, and will be watching for any changes over the next few months.
Right now, CSD’s programs and our partnering organizations are already geared to provide assistance for those needing support while transitioning to remote work, or to online learning. We and our partners stand ready to serve you however we can, and encourage you to reach out in seeking support. While we work to maintain the highest levels of quality services possible to our deaf community, should we run into any limits in our ability to provide support, we are committed to referring to other organizations and community members that can.
Ensuring Access to Reliable and Accurate Information about COVID-19 in ASL and English
It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure that our deaf communities are receiving the information that they need to combat the spread of this virus. There are a number of materials available in ASL or through captioned or written media. We have provided a dedicated webpage that lists accessible resources, and will continue to add to it as the situation evolves. We are aware that not everyone has access to a reliable internet connection and ask for your help in sharing and spreading information to those close to you. We also ask that you share any of the latest information about COVID-19 that you find with us, so we can ensure that the information is accurate and credible, and most importantly of all, accessible to all of us.
We are all in uncharted territory and we will likely all face tougher decisions ahead whether that be in the workplace or at home. The call for unity is one for all of us to come together and work together in with the common goal to slow the spread of COVID-19, and protect the most vulnerable among us. We must step up for others. We must remember that we are all in this together.
CSD stands with you. I stand with you. Our entire team here at CSD remains steadfast in our commitment to support you and our entire community during this very difficult time.
Please watch for any updates from us as we continue to share information with you through the coming few weeks.
Chief Executive Officer
Communication Service for the Deaf
Find more resources in ASL on COVID-19
Visit our resource page today to find more information in ASL and English on COVID-19